Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Evolution toward Fifty-Something

It's February and that means I've been blessed enough to reach another earthly birthday.  I'm not twenty-something.  I'm not thirty-something.  I'm not forty-something.  A few years ago I reached what I hope to be about the half-way mile marker, so when birthdays come these days, I am just very grateful to be "something" at all.  So, if the truth be known, I am fifty-something in a couple of days.  If I may, I'm going to unpack a little evolution of decades that portray my journey to this momentous place.  Thanks in advance for your indulgence.  Everything herein is referring to me and what I experienced in each decade.  I am by no means degrading another age group, because I know things change and each person is different as individuals.  That being said, there will be some things that some of recognize as general to our age groups.  Jump on board for the journey.  We're about to evolve!

In my twenties I remember being that person who was starry-eyed and bushy-tailed and excited to take on the adventure of life.  I had graduated from college, married my sweetheart, moved to NYC and had our daughter - all by the end of the decade.  It was an active decade, and if you asked me then, I would have told you I had the world by the horns and I was maneuvering my ride through life pretty well.  I look back on it now and I can say, while it seemed fun and exciting at the time, I would have done so much so differently.  While I'm a bit scatterbrained, I've also always known that I have a higher than average IQ.  I don't say that pridefully, but I say it to accentuate that, back then, I was prideful about it.  I thought I knew everything and I tried to play God with my own life.  I made unwise choices and rarely ever consulted God.  I claimed to know Him, but you would never really have known it, except for a "help-me" prayer every now and again when I was in a tight spot.  I thought the world was grand; I thought my life was grand; I thought I had arrived.  In all reality, I was a snotty-nosed immature know-it-all!  Ugh...I wasn't very good at playing God, after all.

Then came my thirties.  I tell everyone that I think a light bulb finally gets turned on in our thirties.  I became aware that I had been quiet naive in the previous decade and that maybe I wasn't as smart as I had perceived myself to be.  More maturity and a bit more wisdom had started to shed some light onto life for me.  My daughter was young and God started drawing me back into relationship with Him.  I knew I wanted that for both myself and my child.  Instinctively, I just knew that it wasn't all about me anymore and that there was a Great Designer who had a better plan for my life and this precious little girl I was now responsible for.  Great, I thought I would tell my husband and he would be on board, but he wanted nothing of the kind.  He secretly wanted to jump ship and scoffed at the idea that we needed God to become a strong happy family.  We grew further apart and my soul started longing for my old Kentucky home.  I convinced him to move and we headed for the hills.  The Bluegrass became our new home, but something was still missing.  My heart took me on a search and I realized I had become really lousy at playing God in my own life and the lives of my family.  I recommitted my life to the Lord Jesus Christ and invited Him to be the LORD of my life for the very first time.  It was the turning point in my life in so many ways.  My husband drug his feet for a long time, but in the later part of our thirties decade, my prayer life for him and our marriage had intensified and he invited Jesus Christ into his own heart.  THAT was the real turning point for us.  We were a hot mess and we had come to Jesus just as we were - with so much gunk and garbage.  He invited us in and started cleaning up the trash.  Wow, I was beginning to see where real wisdom comes from.  It is not inherent, but is imparted from the LORD as He is sought.  What a revelation - yet again!  So we set out on a new journey - a journey of faith this time - and we buckled our seat belts because when God is in the driver's seat it is both wild and adventurous...never a dull moment.

In our forties, we thought we had finally settled down into some semblance of normal life.  We owned our dream house, we had an active social life with friends and were heavily involved in church activities.  We both had good jobs and were finally secure - well, for a while, at least.  Then I got laid off and eventually my husband - who was a master salesman that won every sales contest imaginable and took us on many great company-paid vacations, started hitting a brick wall in his career efforts.  What in the world was going on? We were strong in our walk with the LORD, and all of a sudden we were really struggling financially.  It wasn't the first time.  In our twenties we had made dumb financial mistakes, but now we should have been better stewards with our resources.  Yet, the well was drying up.  Towards the last part of the decade we realized that it was God's plan to take us out of corporate America and use us in full-time ministry.  My husband became a pastor and we moved from Kentucky to Colorado.  After a few years we moved from Colorado to Illinois.  Yes, this ministry thing was indeed a journey that was driven by God.  We learned that this journey often included bumps in the road and unexpected detours.  At the age of 48, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was a faith journey, for sure, and my God proved faithful, once again.  I am so thankful that He has kept me and that I am now 4 years cancer-free.  He opened my eyes to priorities once again and gave me just a little bit more wisdom as I hung onto His grace and sought His truth.  I began to learn that obedience is a blessing and the presence of God was what I needed more than breath.  He gave me both.

That brings me to the present decade.  We moved to California nearly a year ago and my husband is a pastor who loves his job of helping people see their need for freedom and recovery as they surrender their lives to Jesus.  He loves to tell our story of grace, forgiveness and redemption wherever and whenever God allows him to do so.  He is a modern day evangelist and his passion for the LORD and for our family is an amazing blessing.  I am in awe of how God transforms willing broken vessels.  An awareness of His presence is at the center of our lives and marriage and we hang on for dear life with every new adventure He takes us on.  We became grandparents this past year with our first grandchild, a precious little boy.  Now, that, is a definite life-changer!  Just when I think I've arrived and that I've finally matured enough to really start understanding life, God throws in a grandchild and we become like little children ourselves - quiet giddy - as we become bonkers over this little one who brings an entirely new dimension of love into our lives.

We have started to have a few maintenance issues with these earthly tents.  Our models were created over half a century ago, but we are trusting that God will continue to give us the fuel and the upgrades we need to keep them well-maintained and functional on the road of this journey on which He has us.  The teeth and the knees could use definite upgrades; our mental hard drives could use a re-boot every now and then; covering up grey hairs has become all too frequent and expensive and our propensity to sing jingles from too many commercials aired on the news channel that plays at least 50% of the time in our house has caused us to pause and realize we are not spring chickens any longer.  But with all the stuff that makes us realize we are in the second half of this ballgame, we are more excited than ever to know that we will finish strong in this game of life.  I hope I have at least 3 or 4 more decades to blog about before it's all over.  And I'm sure God has so much more to teach me for every decade of "something" with which He graces me.  But that's up to Him.  He is the driver and He, alone, can navigate the twists and turns of my journey.  I'm thankful He allows me to be along for the ride and that my journey is ever evolving until I reach my heavenly destination.  That's where I will dance and sing even more boldly to the LORD and you could be privy to a new "Evolution of Dance" if you're up there with me.  I hope you are!

From Psalm 71 - NLT:  O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.  Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God.  Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.